It was a battle between two Big Ten schools on Saturday night in Minneapolis as Minnesota hosted Michigan in the weekend series finale. Steve Racine started the game in net for Michigan, and his adversary for Minnesota was Adam Wilcox.
The fight for offense commenced in the first couple of minutes of the game, and Michigan struck first at 1:31 when Andrew Sinelli scored his first goal of the season. Zach Hyman and Cristoval Nieves assisted Sinelli on the effort. Early on, Michigan goaltender Steve Racine saw shots from Justin Kloos and Justin Holl, so his feel for the game was evident early.
At 3:37, Michigan’s Andrew Sinelli was assessed an interference minor, giving Minnesota their first power play. The Gophers couldn’t get anything in the offensive end going, and had no shots on the power play.
Michigan drew another penalty at 7:15 when Luke Moffatt went for interference. Minnesota’s second power play of the game, like its first, didn’t amount to anything on the scoreboard, and Michigan ked 1-0 nine minutes into the contest.
Shots were 6-2 in Minnesota’s favor through 10:30, but Michigan was plugging holes in their back check, forcing Minnesota to stretches without efficient shooting. As the first twenty minutes were winding down, one thought could be surmised with those rooting for Minnesota. That thought centered around quality versus quantity, as shots were still 6-2 in Michigan’s favor at the 13:15 mark.
Minnesota’s Taylor Cammarata was called for tripping at 13:15, giving Michigan their first power play of the game.
The Wolverines were hungry during their man-up time, but Minnesota’s penalty kill got the better of the Wolverines, permitting Michigan to only one shot on the power play and taking one of their own.
Minnesota’s Sam Warning tied the game at one, at 17:46 on even strength. Kyle Rau and Hudson Fasching assisted on Warning’s eleventh marker of the year. Shots on goal through twenty minutes favored Minnesota 10-4.
The first few minutes of the second period saw both teams attempting to make chances with the offensive possession they had, but neither team could convert with a combined three shots on goal in the first 2:30. Minnesota nudged ahead at 2:53 when Connor Reilly scored his fifth goal of the season. Gabe Guertler and Vinni Lettieri were credited with the assists on the even strength marker.
To the 25:00 mark overall, Michigan was being outshot 15-6, which proves just how close the game became after the auspicious opening on the Minnesota side in reference to coming slow out of the gate.
Shots were 16-10 in favor of Minnesota with eight minutes to go in the second period, but Michigan needed a spark to get back in the game. Minnesota’s Jake Bischoff gave Michigan its second power play when he was assessed a holding penalty at 12:23. Michigan’s power play went to work looking for that previously mentioned spark, and Michigan couldn’t find the spark. They only got two shots on goal.
Minnesota’s Nate Condon scored the third Gopher goal at 15:20 in the second period when he hit on his sixth goal of the year on even strength. Vinni Lettieri assisted on the effort, and the assist was Lettieri’s second of the game.
As the second period came to an end, shots on goal favored Minnesota 19-18.
The third period began with Michigan on the back foot, needing two goals to send the hockey game further than its prescribed sixty-minute duration, and Michigan got the first two shots on net in the first four minutes of period three. At the 5:35 mark, Michigan's Michael Downing was assessed a penalty for head contact, which carried a five minute duration and a game misconduct with it. On the expanded power play at 8:37, Minnesota's Hudson Fasching put the puck past Racine for Minnesota's fourth goal of the game. Fasching had assists from Kyle Rau and Travis Boyd. The power play continued without additional damage suffered by the Michigan penalty killing unit.
Shots on goal favored Michigan 24-22 through 52:00 overall, and while it looked like the Wolverines were phoning it in, Red Berenson's bunch had a series to prepare for next week at Yost Ice Arena versus the Penn State Nittany Lions. They would need to have work done on play after whistles, as Andrew Sinelli was called for high sticking at 14:37, giving Minnesota their fifth power play of the night.
Minnesota didn't need more in the way of power plays, as the Gophers cruised to the end in finishing off the Wolverines. Minnesota's Seth Ambroz was assessed a hooking minor at 18:48 of the third. Michigan's abbreviated power play couldn't handle the Gopher penalty kill when it was over. Shots on goal favored Michigan when all was set and done by a 29-24 margin. Power plays had Michigan at 0-3 and Minnesota at 1-5.
A score sheet from tonight's game can be accessed here.
Minnesota takes a week off before a series on February 28-March 1 versus Penn State.
Geoff Discher is Examiner.com's Minnesota Golden Gophers Hockey Examiner as well as the National College Hockey Examiner. Leave a comment below, or feel free to reach him at Disch61@hotmail.com with comments, story ideas, or any general talk surrounding college hockey. You can find him on Facebook as well by clicking here as well as here and joining the conversation from the social media side as well. He's always chock full of fact and opinion. I’m also on Twitter @Disch_InTheVOX. Check it out!
Until next time, I'll see you at the rink!